Jul 19, 2019 | By: Shirelle Moore

In Focus: BSU Ojibwe Language Camp Focuses On Art & Carrying On The Culture

A huge part of almost every culture is the language, and that goes especially for the Ojibwe language. This summer, seven campers spent time at Bemidji State University studying the words of the language with 6th annual Ojibwe Language Camp.

“The Ojibwe language was becoming relatively extinct. It’s mostly an oral language. There aren’t a lot of books that written in Ojibwe, so it was important to us as a campus to find an opportunity for students to really get the language experience and know that it’s something that needs to be carried on into the future,” says Angie Gora, the summer program director for BSU.

“All the students learn how to introduce themselves and then they learn how to say their clan and where they’re from, what their name is and the importance of getting an Indian name,” says camper Aazhide-Giizhig Kingbird.

The camp lasted seven days total. This year, the camp incorporated a lot of art projects into their teaching.

“This year we introduced the students to a sewing project. We gave them the opportunity to make a cloth doll which was kind of important because a lot of times when you shop in big stores around here, you cannot find a doll that represents the American Indian culture,” says Gora.

The campers also made canvas paintings and did beadwork. As for the dolls, they were made to represent what was important to them. Kingbird says she wanted hers to resemble her ancestors.

She says, “She has a side braid and somebody made a ribbon skirt for her and then I kind of just made it really simple. I didn’t want to go all out or anything.”

“My doll is – it’s my grandpa and he’s really sick and I just thought if I made this for him, he’d feel better, like just happy,” says another camper, Neegonee Burnett.

Everything the campers made they get to keep. Burnett says he hopes his grandpa likes his gift.

“He’s going to start laughing! I hope he starts laughing and really enjoys it,” says Burnett.

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